FAFSA Verification – Don’t Delay Your Financial Aid!
You completed the FAFSA, you received the Student Aid Report (SAR), now what? Many students aren’t aware but one out of three students will be selected for verification, and if you are chosen don’t worry, its routine. Verification is to ensure that the information is accurate, because people are human and mistakes can happen. Simply putting down the wrong birthday, social security number, or putting tax information in the wrong box can make it difficult for financial aid offices to give you an accurate award package. If you are selected for verification, submit the requested documents by your financial aid office ASAP! Sometimes, it can take up to four weeks to process verification paperwork, due to the abundance of students submitting verification paperwork, especially in the beginning of each semester and with many financial aid offices working remotely.
If you were selected for verification, the process must be completed before you can receive your financial aid award offer or letter. Most financial aid offices correspond via email (the email you provided on the FAFSA) – so make sure you check your email on a daily or at least a weekly basis. Aside from receiving notification from the financial aid office that you were selected for verification, you can check your SAR; if you have an asterisk (*) next to the EFC on your SAR, your FAFSA was selected for verification.
- The documents that are usually requested are the tax transcripts of the tax information used on the FAFSA. Remember, the financial information used on the FAFSA is the prior-prior year. As of today, tax transcript can only be requested online. Previously the IRS processed transcript requests by mail but they have stopped doing that for the time being. When that changes, you will be able to find that here.
- If you enter your financial information manually on the FAFSA, the chances of being selected are higher. If possible, use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool – it links the application to the IRS database for the financial information.
- Correct errors on your FAFSA as soon as you find them. Keep in mind you can’t make corrections until at least 1-3 business days after you submit your FAFSA. So, double-check your FAFSA before submitting it.
- If you or your family’s income has changed drastically from the tax information being used on the FAFSA, contact your institution’s financial aid office and let them know – most schools have ways to address this predicament. This would be done after you complete the FAFSA, and it could be called “Professional Judgement,” “Need Analysis,” or “Income Override.”
- As mentioned before, if you were selected for verification, submit the requested documents ASAP! It’s worth mentioning twice because we assist many students who wait until the start of the semester to submit their verification paperwork. This can result in funds being disbursed weeks after the start of the semester – and after the payment deadline, which can mean having to pay late fees.
If you’re not sure where to start or how to begin the process (if you were selected for verification), contact your school’s financial aid office.
If you would like more information about financial aid, feel free to contact the ACPE Success Center at 907-269-7980 or ACPESuccessCenter@alaska.gov.
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